INTOLERANCE: A VILE AND DANGEROUS HUMAN ATTITUDE
By Said Jama Hussein 
August 2009

The Mooge Cultural Festival and International Book Fair held in Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland between 22 July and 27 July 2009 was a unique cultural event at least for three tangible reasons:

Firstly, it was the first time a literary and cultural festival of that scale and magnitude has taken place in the country since the downfall of the obnoxious military rule of General Siad Barre in 1991.

Secondly, Since the festival had been primarily meant, as its name unmistakably indicates, to honour the memory of the late Mohamed Moge Liban, celebrated artist of rare talents, a patriot and educationist of amicable personal qualities, Hargeisa as undisputed hub of Somali art and culture, and being the hometown of the late Mohamed Moge, was the most apt venue to be chosen for this remarkable event.

Thirdly, the astonishingly excellent level of preparation and organisation carried out by the co-partners, KAYD arts and cultural organisation and REDSEA-Online, under the experienced and dynamic direction and leadership of Ayan Mahamoud and Jama Musa Jama respectively.

The Hargeisa festival which lasted for a whole long week, practically starting at dawn and finishing at dusk throughout the week, was meant to achieve three objectives:

To inform, to entertain, and to educate. For this purpose, to the festival was invited an appreciable number of renowned artists, writers, poets, intellectuals, playwrights, professors, and prominent social figures. The sponsoring organisations of KAYD and REDSEA On-line had, this time also, true to their principled tradition in such undertakings, chosen such pertinent themes as Censorship, Intolerance, Need for Reading Culture to be debated and discussed as a vital and integral part of the festival programme.

And this is precisely the reason that prompted me to hastily scribble this short article on ‘INTOLERANCE’ as its subject.

Before moving to our theme of ‘Intolerance’, let me say a final word about the festival. The turn out to the festival was massive beyond belief, particularly among the young generation who luckily happened to be on their school vacation; and the festival ended in a brilliantly resounding success.

It is my absolute conviction that of all human passions, attitudes and behaviours the most dangerous and despicable is intolerance. Hence the fight against it must be equally resolute and tenacious. Human history is full of glaring examples of the immeasurable damage which extremist movements, be they political or religious or in many cases the combination of both, driven by their blind and powerful urge of intolerance, are capable of inflicting. To cite but a few easily remembered ones, we can easily mention the Crusade Wars in the Middle Ages, the First and Second world wars in the first half of the 20th century, and the most spectacular atrocity of our time- Al-Qaeda’s attack on the World Trade Centre in New York killing at least 3000 people in the first year of this 21st century of ours.

It has been verified beyond the slightest shade of doubt that all radical and fundamentalist movements of whatever persuasion can be seen to have the spirit of intolerance deeply ingrained in their political ideologies or religious doctrines for that matter.

Appalled by the horrific outcome of the world wars of the last century, and in order to forestall the recurrence of similar catastrophes in the future, the United Nations has promulgated the Human Rights Law as a major article in its charter and made it binding to its member states. As quite well known, all the UN member states, despite their obvious differences and diversities, are signatories to this most plausible law ever to be enacted in the interest of humanity. Its message is loud and clear- to unreservedly and indiscriminately safe-guard the well being of humanity and forcefully thwart any measure deemed detrimental to the life and livelihood of humanity. The commendable positive impact of this Human Rights Law notwithstanding, yet the stark reality remains that no matter how fatal may be the policies practised by states or parties such repulsive and outrageous actions cannot be simply stamped out by the mere setting of a law. That is why even the most despotic and totalitarian regimes in the world today though having the Human Rights Law incorporated into their national constitutions, do not care the least.

On the other hand, a quick glance at the democracies or the democratic states in our world today is enough to reveal that they are sustained, among other essential factors like economic, social and cultural advancement, by the dissemination of the spirit of tolerance coupled with the enforcement of the rule of law. And that constitutes the bedrock of their much admired and envied social welfare and social harmony. As it is for the state, so it is equally true for the individual citizen. To acquire in your lifetime the commendable trait of tolerance as part of your personal character is to have gained the key to the realm of human civilisation- the utmost that one can aspire to achieve.

Of special concern to us here is to briefly touch upon the theme of intolerance and how it applies to the Somali society. Since the ousting of the military regime headed by general Siad Barre in 1991 and the subsequent collapse and disintegration of the Somali state, the country has been ravaged by incessant, un abetting diabolical civil war that aptly earned it in the world mass media the reviled title of ‘the most failed state’ for the past two decades and which it strangely struggles to retain much longer.. Of course, this dire state of affairs did not come about randomly, nor as a curse from heaven as some feeble-minded people try to self-righteously explain. The gist of it is that we came to this lamentable state as the result of logical culmination of unpopular and misguided policies and unbridled maladministration over the past forty years. In short, one can safely say that aside from the direct repressive policies and practices meted to the Somali people by the dictatorial Siad Barre regime and the war-lords who succeeded him only to take his hateful legacy even further; in both instances the wilful and malicious spread by remorseless politicians of clannish values utilising the parochial notion of intolerance among the hapless population contributed to no small extent to the prevailing state of agony and hopelessness.

Over the past 20 years, at least, we have been hearing from Somalis, supposedly learned ones, as well as foreigners writing about the core causes of the ongoing Somali dilemma their haughty assertion- the same vague sing song- that the chief cause of the Somali predicament lies squarely on its nomadic, pastoralist, clannish way of thinking and behaviour. In other words , the qualities and natural behaviour of the pastoralist nomads were chiefly responsible for the unending internal wars and the destruction of the country. There is absolutely no denying of the fact that the parochial relations and the tribal value system dominantly prevalent in the countryside acted as a catalyst to be exploited by wily, undeterred selfish politicians serving their own interest and not caring the least for the Somali masses that brought them to power. This being so, yet such audacious claim that the Somali tribal structure and its traditional business norms were the primary cause that ultimately ruined the country ludicrously smacks of naivety and can simply be dismissed as a load of rubbish. ‘How have they – these pastoralists- been able to achieve independence in the first place?’ is never asked. Nor is it for me to waste much time in that futile debate.

Worth reminding ourselves, there was a time when Somalia did enjoy a period of relative peace and stability. For the first nine years of its independence, Somalia had, compared to many other African countries, a relatively democratic system of governance that sowed a palpable degree of tolerance among its people and willingness to adhere to the rule of law. Unfortunately, that was but short-lived. The blatant violation of the constitutional laws by the ruling echelons of the government brought a wedge between the rulers and the ruled which eventually paved the ground for the military takeover.

Moving to an interesting episode on personal level quite relevant to our theme of ‘Intolerance’, Nuruddin Farah the internationally acclaimed Somali novelist having come to the end of one of his trips to Kenya and on his way to the airport wanted to say his farewell to his father who had been undergoing medical treatment in Kenya at the time. Contrary to his expectation, he found his father cross with him and unforgiving because of his choice of becoming a professional writer in a foreign language and to no lesser degree critical of his choice of dress, his habits and his friends. Addressing his son the father said curtly, “No one trusts subversives.” To which Nuruddin dutifully replied politely but meaningfully, “I wish the two of us could be sufficiently tolerant of each other so as to celebrate our differences. It is time we got to know ourselves better, time we celebrated the differences in our world views.” What a world of difference between the two positions or the two poles of tolerance and intolerance. To sum up

Intolerance is not an inherited but rather an acquired negative trait of character. It is engendered by the historical, geographical, psychological and political milieu in which a person has lived. It cannot be totally eradicated as long as human beings continue living on the face of the earth; but to reduce its negative effect to a minimum is quite a possibility. There could be multitudinous ways of different approaches.

The one that is uppermost in my mind now, taking our present epoch into view, is the one that entails the active collaboration of the most effective factors in the accomplishment of this colossal mission. These factors are the international community, the national state, the civil society, and the individual citizen. The attainment of the highest form of political and human moral consciousness by the person seems to be the ultimate desired goal in which each of the mentioned factors has its own significant role to play. Added to this is the delightful advantage offered by the dynamically transforming world of our time whereby the growing geopolitical, social and cultural mobility, and the free flow of information, ideas, and value systems do inexorably expand the horizons of human awareness.

In conclusion, let there be no illusion that this duty of working towards the realisation of a tolerant society living in harmony and free from the evils of prejudice, bias, and taboo in which sound political activities combine with systematic sound education and orientation to reach its final desired fruition, will definitely demand enormous efforts, huge sacrifices and a great deal of time. Indeed, it is one of the worthiest human endeavours to set our hearts and minds to. Said

Jama Hussein
E-Mail:sjx2005@hotmail.co.uk

The world, a single village The peoples, one family’

'My Thoughts’  By Said Jama Hussein

In the year of 2017 I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. My life seemed to have come to an end. So many friends and well-wishers prayed for my full and speedy recovery. Here I am today in March 2020 still bearing some of the effects of the deadly cancer, and coming face to face with this unprecedented crisis in human history.

The current global crisis- the pandemic Covid-19- has reduced the world further into a single village and its peoples into one family. Henceforth, human life will never be the same as before.

To save ourselves on this planet depends on how we behave and act. A new era has set in demanding new principles, new ideas, and new methods of implementations in order to sustain human life on earth. Both nationally and internationally a totally new approach of policies and practices has to be adopted in all spheres of life – in trade, economy, politics, international relations for the sustenance of permanent peace and security for all.

Cut throat competition in all its manifestations have to be halted once and for all, and replaced by amity and cooperation. National bellicosity has no place in this soul searching new world order; and since the crisis is global, it must be tackled globally which simply means there should be global institutions for the practical implementation of the newly adopted policies.

Happily enough, there are international sources to hugely benefit from already set in place. The tenets of the UN charter and its specialised agencies – a highly significant international body, hitherto mindlessly squandered – are to be sincerely and seriously reactivated as starting measures.

The widening gap between North and South – the highly developed and the developing countries – have to be immediately bridged through a new programme of cooperation… tapping all the natural and human resources in the developing countries for their well being and that of the world. All braggadocio and discriminatory attitudes and policies with their artificial boundaries are by virtue of this life-threatening global crisis – covid-19, virtually rendered obsolete and untenable today.

Moving to the domestic plane – Somalia and the Somalis living in the Horn of Africa – all parochial relations of tribalism and its naughtiness have lost meaning in this colossal predicament, and with it, I can safely say, all other ideas that cannot cope up with the order of the day. Here, the Somalis’ main true and unifying factors like their language, religion, culture, mode of production, and the shared history amassed through centuries of living together in the Horn of Africa can be geared into a new worthwhile initiative – a bond of brotherhood living in peace and full cooperation in all activities. It is only through practical work that such fruits could be reaped. Resort to wishful and impractical thoughts would only prove to be futile and misleading. All unbecoming values and out dated relations must be shunned and repudiated. The unity of the faith in the Islamic religion, as one of the strongest bond of social cohesion must be utilised for purifying the spirit, uplifting the morale, and enhancing the practical programme the nation would be obliged to engage for its togetherness, peaceful co-existence and overall development.

The Somalis in the diaspora have a great role to play. They can substantially contribute towards these noble human and national objectives both materially and culturally. The dissemination of the dictates of the time is an essential element to be prioritised. But first and foremost, they should fully comply with all the meaningful measures being applied in the developed countries they live and try to maximally benefit from them and consequently share with their original home country. This short message is solely meant to draw our attention to the magnitude of the crisis that has befallen the human race at this juncture of its history, and some of the necessity measures that ought to be seriously taken account of in combating this worldwide deadly crisis; and in its wake charting the appropriate world order.

I M A G I N A T I O N : A Most Important Faculty Of The Mind

Every year we, in the management of the Hargeisa International Book Fair, discretely choose a theme to be central to all the activities included in our multi-cultural event. Last year’s theme was JOURNEY and it has been featured in our magazine DHAXALREEB; as for this year’s, we have chosen the theme of IMAGINATION. Why? Let us say from the outset that although we are so bountifully blessed with such enormous material and cultural wealth, yet the majority living on our planet are still unable to use their IMAGINATION and appreciate the miraculous historical evolution through which humanity has traversed over the past few millennia. Pitiably, most of us are among those the great German poet Goethe defined as “ any one who cannot draw from the past three thousand years, must be living from hand to mouth.” Amidst the incalculable riches filling the world, there are millions of people over the continents who go hungry and homeless and to whom hand watches, mobile phones, and cars are unthinkable luxuries. We wonder if the well off can really IMAGINE their plight.

Like memory and intelligence, IMAGINATION is a natural faculty of the human mind. It is, indeed, one of the most important faculties capable of growth and development and without which our lives would have been rendered dreary and meaningless. We can safely say that almost all the baffling achievements enjoyed by humanity today had but barely a century before been counted as totally incredible to come true no matter what thanks to our creative IMAGINATION coupled with fascinating journeys of scientific explorations that continue to this day.

Coming back to our main concern, in the first place, for launching the Hargeisa International Book Fair, it lies in our deep belief that the radical transformation of our people begins with morphing our rich oral tradition into a well sustained culture based on reading and writing. This we hold as an essential requisite that would eventually enable our people, mainly the young generation, to have access to the various fields of knowledge and thus keep abreast of their dynamically advancing world and contribute to its ongoing development. This measure, as can be seen, definitely entails a long process demanding collective work, dedication, endurance and relentless strife; but first and foremost creative IMAGINATION of the lofty goals that would be realized in the final outcome. That is why we are always keen to invite likeminded colleagues from the African continent and beyond, particularly those engaged in the field of literature, art and culture in order to cooperate in our common endeavours and exchange experiences beneficial to the progress of our respective societies.

Realities stranger than fantasies: Through continual toil, study and knowledge can we harness the wildest dreams of imagination into stark realities as everything around us bears witness to from the simple mobile phone and computer set linked to the satellite station in the outer space. Who would have thought, including the most optimistically visionary black American, that within a few decades from Martin Luther King’s address “I HAVE A DREAM” , a Barak Obama would be ceremoniously escorted to the White House as the reigning President of the world’s most powerful nation on earth, the USA. But having said this, yet make no mistake that that dream of the great humanist Martin Luther King still remains far from being realized. On the contrary, all the ills in his lifetime he so vehemently condemned, are still rife and rampant in his country. Creative IMAGINATION remains none the less all- important.

In the same enlightened and dauntless spirit, we can easily imagine that, before so long a time to come, these unsafe, insecure treacherous wild plains inhabited by hapless Somalis in the God forsaken regions in the Horn of Africa, teeming with wonders inviting millions of tourists the world over, and becoming the most ideal site imbued with all facilities, both technical and human, for launching crafts taking passengers bound for the planet Mars and further afield.

Likewise, we can also imagine globally our future children being born immunised and totally free from such deadly diseases as myeloma, meningitis, leukaemia, aids, cancer etc and enjoying their entire lives to the fullest with no worries about ill-health and the scourge of mental impairment and physical deformation. So, our motto for this year 2014 is “Set Your Imagination Free… Higher Still And Still More High”.

KULMISO ARAWEELO & ILK

What do they mean to me? By Said Jama Hussein

The dawn is very nigh! After a long period of tiresome march towards the perilous precipice, I am so delighted to see a new world unfurling before my own eyes for SOMALIA.. there is no doubt the light at the end of the tunnel is nigh and real.

The emergence of and the collaboration of such serious platforms as KULMISO.ARAWEELO and the other similar ones surely constitute some of the high hopes the SOMALIS have waited for so long.

The honest and frank discussions of the society’s various malaise - the formidable challenges it poses - and the subsequently envisioned solutions of peace, togetherness and progress as seen by the participants of different ages,sexes, professions, regional and organisational affiliations, is the real march towards the light.

While in the twilight of my life, and afflicted with grave illness, to be witness to this heartwarming prospect, must, indeed, be both uplifting and immensely gratifying to me.